Mystery solved

My child loves to argue, debate, and negotiate. I say we're having chicken for dinner and he tries to convince me to order out instead. The mountain man tells him to pick up his shoes (jacket, backpack, pencils, etc) and Javi launches into a tirade of self-pity because he always has to do work and he's just so tired. You tell him to go brush his teeth and get dressed because he's been up for hours and still looks like he just rolled out of bed, and he flails around the room while giving you 18 reasons why he shouldn't have to do those things

All day long. About everything. And sometimes he makes sense. When he argues that I should let him go upstairs (even though Bella is sleeping) because he is much quieter when he draws than when he watches tv because he gets bored of tv and then he plays and don't I want Bella to stay asleep and wouldn't it be better to just let him tiptoe very quietly up the stairs to get his paper? And this wouldn't even be a problem if I'd let him keep his paper and pencils downstairs so he doesn't to go all the way upstairs to get them.

But most often (and to my frustration), his logic and reasoning is circular. He argues himself and us into a tangled knot of confusion. Nothing gets accomplished except yelling and the repetition of us saying loudly (and you know that often means yelling over his continued protestations), "I'm not asking you. I'm telling you! Do! It! Now!"

Until yesterday I thought my lot in life was to have this miniature politician constantly questioning, probing, and demanding. I thought it was my fault because I'd prayed at night when he was a toddler that he please find his voice and grasp language. I thought I'd turned him into this argumentative little hassle. I was almost resigned to a lifetime of this little boy who can't really reason his way out of a paper bag. But then we had a conference with his teacher to go over his test scores (welcome to third grade) and a huge weight lifted.

She showed us the results of a bevy of tests, but one stood out above all others. It was a test of his verbal, quantitative, and math ability (at a single point in time, as his teacher stressed over and over again). His verbal score was off the charts, his math score was directly between average and above average, and then there was his quantitative score -- dead last (also known as average range). No wonder his arguments always leave my head spinning! The child can't reason.

It was like a revelation. It's not that he's argumentative or difficult or hard-headed. He simply can't understand why we made the jump from Point A to Point B, and his "reasoning" is his attempt to figure it out. His nine-year-old mind hasn't developed the ability to understand why and so he must question and second guess and offer different options. He's not defying his parents, he's attempting to learn from them.

My new goal is to entertain his questions and travel down that rabbit hole with him as he links nonsequitor to nonsequitor and asks questions that have no connection to your original topic. I will have patience with him as his brain wrinkles and stretches to firmly grasp cause and effect and the big picture. God help me.


  • Laurie

    It's amazing how our perspective changes when we truly realize how completely differently they see the world, isn't it? Sometimes I get so frustrated at the ways my boys behave or do things, but if I actually take some time and try to see their logic, I realize (maybe still don't agree!) why they did something. Good luck with working around 9yo reasoning!

  • amber_mtmc

    My brother has Asperger's syndrome and he just doesn't get it. He's a smart kid, but his reasoning? Very similar to your son's.

  • TKW

    Hoo-boy! Good luck traveling down that rabbit hole! I'll pack you lunch and a big glass of wine!

  • Sarah

    Ironic, isn't it, that the school conference brought this all to a more positive light. I love that instead of being worried that his quantitative score was too low you are using this knowledge to help him, encourage him, and ask yourself for more patience in guiding him to a better understanding of the world around him. Bravo, Kelly! Really remarkable!

  • Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph

    Oh my goodness I know this. Same thing here!!!!!


  • suzannah | the smitten word

    isn't it so liberating to learn the "why" sometimes? good luck:)

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